Mental illness in the African American community has been a growing concern as many continue to suffer in silence. Mental illness has often been equated with weakness, forcing some to hide their issues, or try to overcome them alone. That stigma still exists today.
Behind The Mask: My Naked Truth is an educational documentary which examines how these stigmas are formulated. It also provides those living with mental illness a vehicle to share their personal stories and experiences.
On The Plus Side sat down with N’Tyse to discuss the documentary, and the need to raise public awareness about mental health conditions in the African American community.
OTPS: Mental health is such a taboo topic, especially in the African American community. Why did you decide to do a documentary on the subject?
N’Tyse: I wanted to do an educational doc on this subject for several reasons. Primarily, to offer a platform for those suffering with a mental health condition a means to share their story in hopes it will encourage those who are suffering in silence to reach out for help. It is definitely a topic that gets swept under the rug in the African American community, and I feel it’s time we have the conversation out loud. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. We are also least likely to seek therapy or treatment due to religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, environmental factors, and other barriers. When I took out a moment to assess the statistics, recent tragic events that have played out on social media, and even those around me who were battling, I felt compelled to take action.
OTPS: The title of the documentary is Behind The Mask: My Naked Truth. Why did you settle on this title for the project?
N’Tyse: I feel the main reason some people walk through life with a mask on is out of fear of being judged. Stigmas, labels, etc. can be mentally paralyzing for some, and unfortunately that’s what mental health sufferers. and even mental health advocates like my team and I, are up against as we make an effort to drive this dialogue. So overall, I wanted the title for this film to represent an organic movement, which empowers others to confront their naked truth. I also wanted it to resonate with the valiant individuals who were so honest and transparent in offering us a glimpse of their personal struggles.
OTPS: Tell us a little about the various talents who are making this venture possible.
N’Tyse: In addition to our case studies, joining us is the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) ambassador, licensed psychotherapist and former Miss International, Miss Elise Banks, student and staff psychologist of Southern Methodist University, Dr. Abel Tomatis, and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, along with a host of other guests. We are also excited to have award-winning director Arthur Muhammad of “Carter High” attached to the project.
OTPS: What do you hope viewers walk away with once they’ve had a chance to see Behind The Mask?
N’Tyse: I’m hoping they find themselves more informed on mental health issues, and even empowered to take action. There is so much work to be done, but taking the pledge to listen and being a part of the conversation is a great start.
OTPS: When will Behind The Mask: My Naked Truth be ready for public viewing?
N’Tyse: We don’t have an official release date since we are still in production, but we are hopeful that we can get the film distributed nationally and aired on a television network.
OTPS: Where can readers contact and/or follow Behind The Mask, and keep up with the film’s progress?
N’Tyse: Updates, trailers, and more can be found on our website and Facebook page. We can also be reached directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Film: www.behindthemaskfilm.com
Videos, Trailers & Updates: www.facebook.com/BTMdocu
#BehindTheMaskFilm #LetsHaveTheConversation #IWillListen
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